I was going to write this post retrospectively after Christmas, but then I figured it’d be too late for you to get on board if you are anything like us, and completely thrive on all the seasonal activities at this time of year. Plus I’d absolutely love to know your Christmas activity recommendations too! Because, you know, it’s never too late to squeeze in a few more hours of festive fun here and there! 🙂
Finding family friendly, value for money December visits is fast becoming my specialist subject. There aren’t too many Santas on this little island that we haven’t visited in the past ten years, and if there are we’re seeking to rectify that post haste. I’m totally up for it if anyone knows of any Santa secret shopper gigs going. I think that could be my one true calling! 😉
Anyhow, I’ve put together a little list of the best local things to do. Some we’ve discovered over the years, and others are new to us this year. Some we are going to ourselves over the next couple of weeks so, whilst I can’t comment yet on how good they’ve been, I thought it was worth putting out there anyway in case you fancy a visit yourselves.
None of these trips have been sponsored, we’ve paid in full for them all and I just thought it would be fun (and maybe helpful?) to share them with you too.
Santa Claus is coming to town
Our favourite trip of recent years was definitely last years to Titanic Belfast. The staging was just immense, and we loved the whole experience, right from the beginning. It’s also brilliant value for money as you aren’t rushed at all and can enjoy the crafts and Victorian games for as long as you like before and after meeting Father Christmas himself. He was just the nicest man too, and I’m almost certain he was the real deal. Totally magical! You can see a little more about our trip last year here if you’d like to!
The Winter Garden
We are planning a trip to Antrim Castle Gardens Winter Garden in the next couple of weeks, and I’m really excited to see the displays. We are long time lovers of this beautiful park and I know it’ll be so pretty lit up in the evening too. A perfect excuse to wrap up and drink hot chocolate as we walk around at dusk.
One for the doggies!
I can’t tell you how excited I was to see that Ernie can be involved in the festive fun this year too! We are heading to Mount Stewart next weekend to visit a Father Christmas dedicated to pets. Owners can bring along their furry chums for a meet and greet with the big man himself, a special gift, and then morning or afternoon tea in the grounds of this beautiful National Trust property. Booking is essential.
This weekend we’re off to Rowallane Garden’s Christmas Market. I’m such a sucker for this sort of thing, truly! Last year we visited the one at The Argory and it was so beautiful too. We picked up our little fairy door there, and I’m looking forward to browsing all the stalls this year too.
Christmas Pop Up!
If you’re in the area, the sweetest little gift collective has opened at Dufferin Avenue in Bangor. The Winter Pop Up will run from now until Christmas and features wares from independent sellers and unique little finds. Francesca Hool, the lady in the know, was telling me a little about it the other day;
‘We are a gift collective featuring award winning online boutiques. Our aim has been to create a diverse space filled with talented small business owners, encouraging people to shop small and shop local. I think there is really something to be said for buying unique gifts that support small businesses. So, with the Shop Small Saturday ethos in mind we have formed the Winter Pop Up. Our support allows dreams to be realised and stories to be told.
Check out our Facebook page here, for a glimpse into the way we have curated the store. https://www.facebook.com/winterpopupcollective/ ‘
Definitely worth a visit if you are in the market for last minute or unusual gifts. You can use the exclusive LATLW discount woods15 online at littlecitizensboutique.com and redrubyrouge.com , or quote it in store too!
Break a leg!
The past few years we’ve made it a tradition to head to The MAC in Belfast’s St Annes Square for their Christmas play. A far cry from the traditional pantomimes of December, these productions are always arty, unique and produced really beautifully. This year it’s the turn of Rumpelstiltskin to take to the stage, and we’re looking forward to a visit.
(It’s also worth checking out The MAC for other family activities. Last year we did a really fun snowglobe workshop which the kids loved!)
I hope you are having a lovely December so far, and do let me know if you have any other recommendations. I’m always excited to hear from the experts!